Horse With No Name- Fingerstyle- 5 LEVELS

From Rank Beginner to Intermediate- which level will you get to?

If you love fingerstyle guitar and want to learn “Horse with No Name“, we can do both! In this video we will start at the very beginning with an easy pattern (LEVEL 1) which I’m almost 100% positive anyone who has a guitar nearby (rank beginner) will be able to play.

As we move up the levels (all the way to LEVEL 5), the degree of difficulty increases. But the real challenge here is not the notes to pick but the rhythm itself (swing rhythm). It took me many years to realize the difference. But once you know what it is and how to do it, a whole new world will open up.

Difference between Swing and Straight Rhythm

The difference between swing vs. straight rhythm is easier to feel and hear than trying to intellectualize it on paper or notation. In the video I show you the examples between the two. First, it’s important to at least be able to “drum out” as I call it… with your hands before you try to play it on the guitar. Technically swing rhythm features off beats (which are the & beats) that are not symmetrically proportional to the rest of the beats. Think of it like this- instead of every one of the 8 beats being evenly spaced, the off beats are delayed.

Here’s a crude chart of what that looks like:

1    &     2   &     3   &    4    &
/    /    /    /    /    /    /    /  (straight rhythm) 
/     /  /       / /       / /      /    (swing rhythm) 
1     &  2       & 3       & 4      &

You will notice that all the & beats are delayed but the downbeats (1 2 3 4) are not. The tricky part however is using the metronome when playing in swing time. It has to be set only to click off on 1/4 notes (click is only sounding off on beats 1, 2, 3, 4,) . Setting the metronome to 8 clicks per measure will result in the & notes sounding off in straight time (only a special metronome would be able to play swing notes).. So like I said, just set the metronome to play on the 4 downbeats of the measure.

Better to Feel Swing than to understand it

It’s interesting to know that our heartbeat is in Swing Rhythm! So we in essence have lived with that rhythm every moment of our lives. Yet this elusive feel is very difficult for beginners. My recommendation is first be able to hear the difference between Swing and Straight. The video will help you with that. Next step like I said is to drum it out with your hand. After you can drum along- then try to play it on guitar.

Horse with no Name- Building the fingersyle

From LEVEL 1 all the way up to LEVEL 5, we get to see and hear the building blocks of fingerpicking. If you can put your mind (and soul into it), this song and many others can be added to your list of favorite songs to play. I hope you will give it a try!

Directions to download: Right click on your horse (whoops, I meant mouse) and “save image as”




  1. I’ll get to level 5. Don’t know when, but I’ll get to it.

    • Robert Harris

      Hey Murray, I’m glad you are working on this song. One step at a time… we will get there!
      Have a great guitar week!!

  2. High Bob haven’t played for a while hoping to get back to it

    • Robert Harris

      Hey Shaun, great to hear from you and glad to hear you are getting back into the pickin’ ..
      I’ve been sick but feeling much better so, I need to get back on the guitar myself!
      Wishing you a happy guitar week and all the best with everything else.

  3. Stephen Rattigan

    Hi Bob, great lesson, one question – why do we fret the 5th string (Em), it’s never played?

    • Robert Harris

      Hi Stephen, thanks for commenting here- this is a great question…
      You don’t have to, if you are just planning on fingerpicking and doing this exact pattern and string choices.
      But let’s say you wanted to strum this song like the original recording of the Horse by America (as I’ve shown towards the end of the video). With the strumming
      you will need to form the standard 2 fingered Em chord because we will hear that 5th string when strummed. Another reason would be if you decide to pick different
      strings.. with the full chord you can go ahead and pluck that 5th string as a variation to the pattern.

      I did debate about whether or not to use the Em chord and decided to use it- not only the reasons above but
      also this is a standard much used guitar chord that you will run into a million times.
      I hope this helps and many thanks for taking the lesson here (and really paying attention!!).

  4. Eddie Towne

    All the way 😅 hopefully

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *